Factors perceived to affect the wellbeing and mental health of coaches and practitioners working within elite sport

Denise Hill, Georgina Brown, Toni-Lee Lambert, Kelly A. Mackintosh, Camilla Knight, Paul Gorczynski

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Abstract

To date, limited research attention has been directed towards examining the wellbeing and mental health of the support team who work with elite athletes in the performance setting. Hence, using a pragmatic approach, this study explored the factors perceived to impact the wellbeing and mental health of coaches and sports science practitioners within a national sporting organization. Individual interviews and focus group discussions were completed with a sample of 11 participants, which included three male coaches, seven sport science practitioners (6 female and 1 male), and the male performance director. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun et al., 2016) and the factors perceived to influence participants’ wellbeing and mental health were identified. Specifically, excessive workload, post-competitive loss, and a feeling of isolation were identified as the main risk factors, which held the potential to lower the coaches’ and practitioners’ wellbeing and diminish their mental health. While an effective organizational culture, transformational leadership, and access to quality social support were perceived as the key protective factors that could maintain or enhance their wellbeing and mental health. The findings of the study provide individual and organizational-level recommendations, which, using a social ecological framework, can be implemented to support the wellbeing and mental health of coaches and practitioners within the sport performance environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology
Early online date8 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 8 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • High-performance sport
  • Mental health
  • Social ecological framework
  • Wellbeing

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